I first lingered to admire the beautiful wooden vessels created by Eleanor Lakelin from British wood. Eleanor studied cabinet-making, after a career in teaching, and was the first woman to win the annual Austin’s Prize for Craftsmanship in Wood in 1998. More recently, Eleanor has focused on turning wood on a lathe to carve decorative pieces and functional objects such as bowls and food boards.
Eleanor’s vessels are sensory pieces that you need to see, feel and smell in order to fully digest their beauty. The wood is from trees that have fallen or had to be felled, and each different species of tree has distinct characteristics and qualities as a wood. There are ethereal sculptural forms created from the wood of a 300 year old horse chestnut that was turned, carved, sandblasted and bleached. Sycamore lends a warm, golden hue to bowls carved with dimples that look almost aquatic. Bowls made from olive ash have a tonal colour as the wood closer to the centre of the trunk is darker. Each piece tells the story of its origin, and Eleanor’s sympathetic interventions using only the lathe, sanding, bleaching and scorching.
After training as a painter at The Royal College of Art, London in the early 1960s, Rachel Scott began spinning and weaving in 1976. Initially a practical response to pressing need for some carpet, Rachel found great satisfaction in this new medium for her artistic expression. Her first loom was made from some boards salvaged from a skip, and her brother made her spinning wheel.
Rachel undertakes every aspect of product. The fleeces come from friends who live on the Berkshire Downs and different breeds of British sheep. Rachel cards and combs the fibres before hand-spinning them into wool. The wool remains undyed and tapestry woven on an upright wooden frame loom. The rugs are bold, geometric designs in the subtle colours of the natural wool from different breeds. Black Welsh (black with rusty tips), Devon Longwools (cream), Manx Logthans (soft, pale brown), Shetlands (fine,brown, grey,black), Hebrideans (soft,black) and Herdwicks (pale and dark grey). The rugs are approximately 150 x 75 cm. They can standalone, or be sewn together to make bigger rugs, or stair carpets. I love the contrast of the muted shades with the strong patterns. And, of course, the wool is natural, renewable, hard-wearing, breathable, warm in winter and cool in summer!
I had a short pitstop at Offkut, to admire the sculptural lighting and furniture made from reclaimed industrial salvage. They had lent a stool to a weary neighbouring exhibitor and she vouched for its comfort. Their furniture is certainly built to last. Then a mini-domestic emergency had me pedalling home, pulled away from admiring the marine and floral designs of Justine Munson‘s porcelain.
Rachel’s rugs will next be available at Pullens Yards Winter Open Studios, 6th-8th December.
Eleanor’s work will be available at the Cockpit Arts Open Studios, 29th Nov- 1st Dec.